Assam’s performance in tracking its trafficked children and women was dismal in 2016, compared to 2015, data tabled in the Lok Sabha has revealed.
The data, tabled recently, reveals that 130 children were trafficked from Assam in 2016, of whom only 37 were rescued. The fate of 93 remains unknown. Comparatively, of the 129 children trafficked in 2015, 101 were rescued, a success rate of 78 per cent compared to 28 per cent in 2016.
The trend in terms of rescue of women is similar. The data says 163 women were trafficked from the state in 2016, of whom only 63 were rescued, a success rate of 38 per cent, whereas in 2015, 187 women were trafficked from the state of whom 137 were rescued, a success rate of 73 per cent.
Trafficking is a serious problem in Assam. The state had recorded the highest number of human trafficking cases in the country in 2015 and continues to be among the top trafficking zones.
Union minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had told the Lok Sabha recently that police and public order are state subjects. As such, the registration, investigation and prevention of human trafficking is the responsibility of the state government. “However, the Centre supplements the efforts of the state governments by issuing advisories from time to time and providing financial assistance for setting up anti-human trafficking units at the district level. Besides, training is provided to state police personnel to check trafficking. The Centre has also signed an MoU on prevention of human trafficking with Bangladesh and UAE,” he said.
Rishi Kant, spokesperson for Delhi-based anti-trafficking NGO Shakti Vahini, said a large number of women and children from Assam and other northeastern states are trafficked to different states in the country. Hence inter-state collaboration of law enforcement agencies and civil society groups needs to be strengthened further to trace and rescue trafficked children and women and to arrest the persons involved in such crimes.
Most of the children from the state end up at illegal placement agencies in Delhi and Mumbai, which employ them as labourers and even push some in the flesh trade.
A police source said most of the children and women are lured by traffickers with the promise of a better life. The traffickers mostly target poor families from marginalised communities and those rendered homeless by floods and ethnic violence.
In 2014, the Supreme Court, during the hearing of a PIL by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, had specifically asked Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments to trace the whereabouts of 12,591 children missing since 2011. The NGO, led by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, had sought the court’s intervention in tracing the missing children.
According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, 7,788 children went missing from Assam between 2009 and 2014. Of them, 3,569 children were traced.
A published report of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights says 4,754 children, who went missing in the state between 2012 and October 2014, have remained untraced.